Game Scout: Bills-Saints

Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Buffalo Bills (3-4) at New Orleans Saints (5-1)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans - TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf
*Keys to the game: The Bills are getting a yeomen's effort out of veteran RB Fred Jackson, who continues to average 4.4 yards per carry despite being 32 and playing on a gimpy knee. But the Bills sorely miss C.J. Spiller's big-play threat - he continues to receive a smattering of snaps but his explosiveness remains dormant due to a lingering ankle injury. QB Thad Lewis has played admirably considering the circumstances, but he'll face a new test in the resurgent Saints defense, which is ranked fourth with an average of 17.2 points allowed per game under new coordinator Rob Ryan. A bigger question for Buffalo is how to keep the wraps on New Orleans' offense on the fast track in the Superdome. The Bills do have 23 sacks, with DT Marcel Dareus proving to be one of the better interior rushers in the league while DE Mario Williams has racked up 10 sacks already. Saints QB Drew Brees will look to get the ball out of his hands early, and if Buffalo's pass rush isn't able to force multiple turnovers this figures to be a track meet Buffalo doesn't have the horsepower to keep up in.
*Matchup to watch - Bills LB Kiko Alonso vs. Saints RB Darren Sproles: Alonso has full command of the defense and is in the thick of the race for defensive rookie of the year honors. If he gets matched up against Sproles in coverage, it will be interesting to see how Alonso handles the shifty scatback in space.
*Player spotlight - Saints LT Charles Brown: Brown has done a solid job replacing free-agent departee Jermon Bushrod, but he'll still a main focus of opposing pass rushes to attempt to exploit on Brees' blind side. Buffalo needs turnovers, and beating Charles is a prime avenue to seek them from.
*Fast facts: The Bills are the sixth team in NFL history to score and allow at least 20 points in each of their first seven games. ... Sproles leads NFL running backs with 193 catches since 2011.
The Bills can keep it interesting by pounding their fifth-ranked ground game at New Orleans' shaky run defense, but ultimately QB Thad Lewis doesn't have the ability to go score for score with Drew Brees on the road.
*Our pick: Saints 34-21

What to Read Next